© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The bull, symbol for successful trading, is seen in front of the German stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

(Reuters) – European stocks inched higher on Monday as investors sought safety in defensive sectors such as utilities and real estate on lingering worries that the spread of new coronavirus variants was hampering a global economic recovery.

The pan-European index rose 0.2% by 0715 GMT, extending gains from Friday’s solid rebound.

Utilities, real estate, and financial services rose between 0.5% and 1%, while economically sensitive banking, mining, and auto stocks fell.

Daily Mail and General Trust Plc jumped 5.2% after it said its largest shareholder, Rothermere family, might take the British newspaper private in a 810-million-pound ($1.13 billion) deal, if the sales of its insurance risk unit and Cazoo business go through.

French IT consulting group Atos slumped 15.5% after it cut full-year earnings forecast.

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